By G. Michael Dobbs
HOLYOKE – The city of Holyoke was the only city in Western Massachusetts to receive a $250,000 grant to encourage business growth. It was only one of six communities statewide to receive the grant.
Mayor Alex Morse told Reminder Publications
the process to be awarded the Stimulating Potential, Accessing Resource Knowledge (SPARK) grant was “very competitive.”
He added, “It’s very exciting.”
SPARK is a program of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston under its Working Cities Challenge program. The program is described as “an entrepreneurship and social venture development center in downtown aimed at putting city residents at the forefront of economic growth.”
Morse said the grant money would be distributed over the next three years and over the next several months the focus will be on how the funding will be used.
He said applying for the grant was a process that took more than a year.
“This award is more great news for the future of the city’s Innovation District. We’ve been working hard to position Holyoke to compete in the modern economy, which requires us to stimulate innovative projects and in businesses ventures. With the collaboration of some of Holyoke’s finest organizations and community leaders, this funding will allow us to assist local residents in bringing their innovative ideas to fruition,” Morse said.
The SPARK program will be administered through the Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce Foundation in partnership with the city government, the Public Library, Food & Fitness Policy Council, the Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center, Holyoke Community College, CareerPoint and the Juntos Collaborative.
Kathy Anderson, president of the Holyoke Chamber of Commerce, said, “The chamber has many programs and workshops to help businesses, but there are many others, including Juntos Collaborative, the Library, the city and others do. But there are so many more resources in Holyoke than those who attend our workshops could access if they only knew how. SPARK will tie these and other spaces from the private sector to generate more economic activity.”